What was your prayer life like as a teenager?
We ask this question each year at our year end 8th-grade retreat, “How often do you pray?” The choices are: several times per day, once per day, once per week, and when I remember to. We talk about prayer in our small groups each year. We model different prayer styles during youth group and offer prayer station services during the year to show students different ways to pray. We believe prayer is important.
“Research shows that faith practices are important to long-term faith, or what we call Sticky Faith. Yet often teenagers aren’t sure how to nurture their own spiritual growth. Our research at the Fuller Youth Institute indicates that only about half of graduating youth group seniors pray once a day or read the Bible once a week.”(Do Your Teenagers Know How to Pray, by Kara Powell and Brad Griffin)
Prayer is our “face time” with God, it is our way to connect with, share with, and build a deeper relationship with Him. With my students I use the analogy of a friendship and how we communicate with our best friends. Do you talk to them daily, text them often, look over their facebook pages, call them when you need help, discuss difficult situations, share joys, and share hurts with them? We know that our friendships grow stronger when we communicate with each other. We get to know each other this way. The same can be said for prayer with God.
There are many reasons that our students pray irregularly, or not at all; they don’t think they know how, they don’t know what to say, their lives are so busy they don’t think of it, they don’t feel that need yet to connect to God in a relationship, etc.
What is your prayer life now as an adult? Do your children know that you pray? Do you talk about prayer in your family? Do you have a daily prayer tradition? If you are looking to help your child develop a prayer life, and a deeper relationship with God, looking at these questions might help.
Some of the tools you can use to help your child begin to develop a prayer discipline is to set a daily family prayer time, start a prayer ritual of your own and let your child see you spending time with God, ask your child every now and then what they have been praying about, and ask them how you can be praying for them. Remind them that you pray for them every day.
There are many prayer tools you can begin to use. Fuller Youth Institute offers this 8-week idea with tips for families: 8 Weeks of Noticing God More
Stacy K. Ash,
Assistant Director of Youth Ministries
Wesley UMC / Bloomington, IL